I admit I am blind to most race relations.
I grew up in a town where we had 2 black kids in our school. My friends and I would joke about different races and it was normal. My parents made jokes about Blacks and Jews and I didn’t think anything of it. Tossing around “n**ger” like it was a cuss word. Something you said around your trusted friends but not in public.
The ignorance of childhood, or was it? I am starting to think it was the ignorance of society, the culture that I was raised in. If you don’t live around any blacks, there won’t be any around to hear you degrade them.
As I got older, and began to socialize with more people outside of my own race. I struggled with how I should feel about not finding fault with people who weren’t white. Were there people that didn’t look like me that could be the same as me? I remember having a crush on a black girl when I was a young teen. I remember thinking that if I dated her my Dad would be upset with me. Now I don’t think it’s actually relevant if he would have been upset, but the fact remains I thought he would. So, something was there, in my mind.
I admit I haven’t until very recently thought much about race. I work with people who are of various background and nationalities. Within my peer group I haven’t given it much thought, but I do admit I sometimes become uneasy around people who aren’t the same skin color as me outside of my bubble. I’m the guy who locks the door when an “unseemly” character crosses the threshold of my car. I’m not innocent.
I haven’t been able to retreat into my world like I used to. With all the talk of race, injustice and awful violence recently I just can’t go back to the way I was. I can’t be comfortable anymore thinking that all is well in the world. I look at the church, with their white Jesus and think that something went horribly wrong in my conditioning. My kids made the comment at dinner just tonight that “God has a beard”, and it didn’t settle with me. Though I didn’t get mad, I thought, why? What has been imputed into my mind to cause this imagery?
I began to search through back logged files of memories I had from earlier days regarding race. I remember feeling uneasy seeing a black Santa lawn decoration. Why in the world would that make me uneasy? There is no rhyme or reason other than to say this is what society wants me to see. Those around me want to keep things simple and “vanilla” (no pun intended) or is it? It’s easy if Jesus looks like me. It’s easy and acceptable if my friends look like me. It’s too hard to get to know someone different. What is wrong with me? What is wrong with us?
I know this isn’t what God intended. I know that my heart is hurting for the first time to hear the cry of the oppressed right in our very own city. It’s easy when they are oppressed overseas. It’s easy when they are hurting from a distant land. It’s not when they are your neighbors and friends.
Regardless of the case of guilt or innocence or crime or mercy, the voice of the people is unanimous. Enough is enough. I would be at fault at this point if I chalked this up to political outrage because it’s not. There is no agenda aside from the rights of a people to feel treated equally. It wasn’t but less than a few decades ago that we were segregated. It didn’t used to bother me when I heard someone make up excuses for why blacks were oppressed, now it hurts my heart.
Didn’t we at one time finally say “hey, they aren’t different than us”? Yet, we justify our feelings about racism as “if they would stop talking about it so much it wouldn’t exist”. Isn’t that the opposite of how it should be.
If it didn’t exist they probably wouldn’t be talking about it.
I guess I really don’t know what I am attempting to say in this blog. I know that I’m not comfortable, not now, not knowing that my fellow citizens, friends and neighbors are not ok. Maybe I’m just thinking too much, but I don’t think so. I do know this, God is no respecter of persons. Heaven will be filled with people of every race and color. Jesus isn’t white, he’s not black either. In fact I think we will all be very surprised to know what Jesus actually looks like. If we can’t be comfortable on Earth with everyone, how will be in Heaven? Will we be in Heaven?